|Aguascalientes (the "hot water" shooting out his top)|
|Flying Porkchops (Porkchop is my son's cat)|
|the State Ducks (dig that crazy letterman's jacket!)|
|KCA's (the white elephant beinbg the symbol of the old Philadelphia A's)|
|Greenwoods (elf-hat on a football)|
The team from last year graduated eight players from the VHL squad from last year- the rest are on the new team that remains in the VHL. The graduates were: Oleg Yashin, Alexei Kruchinin, Dmitri Maltsov, Vladislav Kartayev, Daniil Apal'kov, Andrei Konev, Yegor Yakolev, and goalie Nikita Lozhkin, who was called up when Canadian goalie Curtis Sanford began the season as is his usual on the DL.
The first two games were matches with the far western teams, who start out with an eastern swing. Game one was against Sibir, and they took 1-0 and 2-1 leads on power-play goals. We tied it up first on a goal by Alexander Chernikov, who played for Sibir the last two years, bagging 25 goals in 2 seasons. The 2-2 knot was forged by Mikelis Redlihs, a Latvian who had posted 55 goals in 4 seasons with Dinamo Riga. Then it became the Staffan Kronwall show. Kronwall, a Swede veteran whose career boasts a 66-game NHL career with Toronto, Washington, and Calgary (1 goal) and 21 AHL goals over 7 seasons, put us up 3-2 at 12:24 of the 2nd, and pushed it to 4-2 with a second goal with a half-minute left in the second. Apal'kov finished things off with a third period goal that made the final 5-2. The goaltending for both this and the next one was done by KHL veteran Vitaly Kolesnik, who is coming off a struggle of a season for Salavat Yulaev last year (6-8-3, 3.13 GA AVE).
Game two was against Amur and it was a much tighter affair. Maxim Trunyov, who comes over from Severstal trying to prove something (12 goals in 3 seasons), put us on the board with 5 seconds left in the first. Amur tied the game about halfway through the second, but less than a minute later Yegor Averin (also in the prove something group, having totalled 28 goals over four campaigns in Omsk) put us up 2-1. Despite two power plays in the third and pulling their goalie in the last half-minute, Amur couldn't muster a real threat and we started out 2 and 0. Spartak is also 2-0, and Dynamo Moscow has two regulation wins and a shoot-out victory, so we're in pretty good company. Next up is Metallurg Novokutnesk, Monday morning our time.